Monday, April 13, 2020

The Centrality of Economic and Social Rights is Crystal Clear, Yet the State Department Expresses Skepticism

Frequent contributing editor JoAnn Kamuf Ward has just posted this piece on the Just Security blog, analyzing what COVID-19 should teach us about the importance of economic and social rights.  The current U.S. administration has repeatedly expressed skepticism about such basic rights, labeling them "ad hoc."  Yet, as Kamuf Ward writes,

"In countries around the world, we see how failure to ensure access to water and sanitation makes already marginalized populations even more vulnerable to risk of illness. In the U.S., the lack of access to adequate and affordable water and sanitation, which results from neglect and exclusion, disproportionately impacts black, Latinx, and indigenous communities. These communities now must weather the worst of the pandemic

The disparities so clearly before us today cannot be addressed in the absence of laws and policies calibrated to protect economic and social rights. Despite this reality, which is firmly grounded in international human rights law, the Trump administration continues its efforts to downplay the significance of economic and social rights and evade responsibility to protect them. The public face of this effort is the Unalienable Rights Commission, launched in July of 2019 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo." 

Many supporters of economic and social rights are organizing to ensure that the Commission hears their views during its deliberations.  Submissions to the Commission should be sent as soon as possible to 

A number of submissions have already been filed, including from the Columbia Human Rights Institute highlighting human rights to water and sanitation.

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